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Deadline day: International soccer clubs scramble to acquire top-tier players in the last day of eligibility

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The transfer window in professional soccer can be one of the most exciting or heart-wrenching times of the year for fans around the world.

The joy of one’s favorite team signing the next young superstar can cause pleasure like none other. But the thought of getting rid of a starting player due to age or space may bring an overwhelming feeling of despair.

The international transfer period is almost nothing like the free agency period of American sports. Professional soccer has two transfer periods, one before the season begins and another crucial transfer period midseason that occurs between Jan. 1 and Feb. 2.

This midseason window enables teams an opportunity to either acquire players that would be crucial to the team’s success coming down the latter part of the season, or to dismiss players that haven’t been able to make an impact in the starting.

But this is where it differs from American sports. Imagine the MLB trade deadline with the ability to trade with Cuba and Japan. Or the NFL trade deadline with the ability to deal players with any league in the world. Now, imagine these international leagues were just as talented as the ones in America. This is what European soccer fans go through every season.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, the transfer window closed for Spain’s La Liga, the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 – all of which are very competitive independent federations. Although they are in different associations, the leagues deal players between one another, making it perhaps the most chaotic period in the sport all year.

Teams in the English Premier League spent approximately £965 million on players over the past summer – roughly $1.45 billion, according to a graphic published on ESPNFC.com. Imagine the Yankees, Patriots or Lakers dealing with markets that high.

Here are some of the most exciting and most promising transfers for the 2015 mid-season transfer window.

5. Jozy Altidore, striker: Sunderland FC (EPL) to Toronto FC (MLS)

After two less-than-stellar years in the English club, Altidore is back in Major League Soccer. This is great for the development of soccer in America – or in this specific instance, Canada. Altidore was born in New Jersey and will now have the ability to play the majority of his games in America again. Altidore struggled – netting only one goal a Sunderland player – in England, so this may be the homecoming Altidore needs to turn his career around.

4. André Schürrle, winger: Chelsea FC (EPL) to VFL Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)

The 24-year-old German winger, fresh off of winning the World Cup for his native is coming home. He completed a £22 million move from Premier league frontrunner Chelsea, to Wolfsburg in Germany. Schürrle got a decent amount of exposure at Chelsea, but had a hard time being a consistent starter in the London club’s lineup. With 11 goals in 44 appearances, the German was a threat coming off the bench, but the winger needs a starting spot to cement himself as a world-class player. On Wolfsburg, he will get just that opportunity.

3. Fernando Torres, striker: AC Milan (Serie A) to Atletico Madrid (La Liga)

In 2008, Ferndando Torres was arguably the best striker in the world. That all changed in 2011 after a record £50 million transfer to Chelsea FC, which may go down as one of the most worst moves and dropoffs in soccer history.

In his four years on Chelsea, Torres found the back of the net only 20 times in the Premier League – which is what most strikers accomplish in a season. Over the summer, AC Milan bought Torres and in December, the team sent him on a season-long loan at his first club: Atletico Madrid. Since he arrived at the club, Torres scored four goals in nine games, a majority of which were scored against world-class clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Ask Drew Brees, sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to alter your career.

2. Juan Cuadrado, winger: Fiorentina (Serie A) to Chelsea FC (EPL)

After his breakout performance in Brazil over the summer for the Colombian national team, the winger has signed a £23 million contract move to Chelsea. While Cuadrado had a good career at Italian club Fiorentina, Cuadrado now has a chance to prove himself on one of the world’s best teams. The question is: Was his performance in the World Cup a fluke, or is he really one of the world’s most promising wingers?

1. Wilfried Bony, striker: Swansea City A.F.C. (EPL) to Manchester City FC (EPL)

Wilfried Bony ended the 2014 calendar year as the English Premier League’s highest scorer and he didn’t need a big-money team to do it. The striker, who reminds many Premier League fans of a young Didier Drogba, has been a goal machine on Swansea. He scored 25 goals in 54 appearances. With Bony and the Argentinian, Sergio Agüero, up top, Manchester City arguably has the most lethal attacking force in the premier league, with 23 combined goals so far this season. Manchester City is determined to keep its title as Premier League champions, and with Bony, Manchester City is pulling itself closer toward that goal.

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